Since being indicted for abusing his office last Friday, one of Rick Perry's main defenses has been that the indictment is nothing more than a political witch hunt against him. It's an unsurprising defense, especially given Perry's lofty political ambitions.
But the truth is, if there's anyone playing politics, it's Rick Perry.
The judge and special prosecutor responsible for the indictment are both Republicans, not Democrats. What's more, Perry's record very clearly shows that he's the one who has tried to abuse his office for political gain.
During Perry's time in office, three District Attorneys have been found guilty of drunk driving. Of those, the only one he threatened if they didn't resign was Rosemary Lehmberg, the only Democrat and the one who just happened to be investigating him.
There have also been several state legislators on both sides of the aisle who have been arrested for drunk driving on Perry's watch, and none of them have been publicly asked to resign, or had a veto threat on their bills either. Suddenly, Perry's claim that he was simply taking a stance against Lehmberg's drunk driving conviction doesn't really seem that valid.
The hypocrisy is so bad that even Rick Perry's own lawyer had no defense for his client's actions.
Progress Texas laid out Rick Perry's record of hypocrisy when it comes to DAs and drunk driving:
- Since Perry has taken office, two other District Attorneys have been charged with drunk driving, but Rick Perry made no calls for their resignation.
In 2009, Kaufman County District Attorney Rick Harrison was found guilty of drunk driving after driving the wrong way in traffic.
In 2003, Swisher County D.A. Terry McEachern was found guilty of a DWI.
What's the difference between these District Attorneys and the Travis County District Attorney? It could be that they are Republicans. More likely, it's that these district attorneys were not overseeing investigations of the governor's signature project – the Cancer Research Fund – which has since resulted in a felony indictment.
State representatives Mike Krusee, a Republican, and Naomi Gonzalez, a Democrat, have also been arrested for drunk driving. Yet neither of them faced any threats from Perry to resign or lose their jobs. In fact, former Repblican State Rep. Jim Stick, who was arrested for drunk driving in 2011, has since been named chief legal counsel for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
To be clear, drunk driving is a terrible crime, and those who drive drunk deserve to face repercussions. But Rick Perry is not the one who gets to decide what those repercussions should be. Rosemary Lehmberg saw a judge and served time for her drunk driving. If Rick Perry were consistent, he'd apply the same standard to all lawmakers and enforcers charged with breaking the law, and call on all of them to resign. Instead, he only tried to force Rosemary Lehmberg out of office. And that's because Lehmberg and the Public Integrity Unit were investigating Perry and his pet project, the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).
When reporters questioned Perry's legal team about the hypocrisy, they were stumped. Below, watch as Perry's attorney avoids answering the question entirely. (A transcript is below the video.)
- Question: If the Governor has been so concerned about the rule of law why did he not speak up when two other District Attorneys in the past – in 2003 and 2008 – Republicans, and were in fact caught DUI and he said nothing. Why is that?
Answer: With regard to your second question, that's something you'll have to ask the Governor's office. I'm here to defend the Governor and to lead the defense team for this particular case.
Even his lawyers know the truth–Rick Perry's hypocrisy is indefensible.